ELY– After a one-year delay due to COVID, the International Wolf Center here was finalizing plans this week to add a new pup to its ambassador exhibit wolf pack. Details were slow to emerge and …
ELY– After a one-year delay due to COVID, the International Wolf Center here was finalizing plans this week to add a new pup to its ambassador exhibit wolf pack. Details were slow to emerge and an official announcement was pushed back again earlier this month.
In an email to the Timberjay last Thursday, International Wolf Center Communications Director Chad Richardson wrote, “(The) bottom line is that we will have one pup and she will be joining us next week.”
On Tuesday, a notice on the IWC website, www.wolf.org, revealed a bit more information. “We expect that she will be visible to the public on approximately June 18, but these dates are approximate. We will share more information here as our timeframe gets clearer.”
Finally, the Wolf Center conducted a webinar Tuesday night to introduce the new female pup. A naming contest is underway this week for the exhibit pack’s newest member. Her name will be announced on Friday, June 18.
The International Wolf Center is a non-breeding exhibit, so when pups are added, they coordinate with another professional animal organization. The source is dependent upon reproductive plans within their facility and availability. They always acquire captive-born pups.
“This year we are coordinating again with the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy, Minn.,” said IWC Wolf Curator Lori Schmidt. “They collaborated with the International Wolf Center first in 2008 to provide pups Aidan and Denali and had pups ready for us in 2020, but the International Wolf Center had to cancel the transfer due to COVID-19.”
The International Wolf Center planned to integrate the northwestern subspecies into their exhibit pack this year.
“There are five subspecies of wolves in North America and we currently manage three subspecies, Canis lupus arctos, (Axel and Grayson, born in 2016) Canis lupus occidentalis or northwestern subspecies (Denali, born in 2008) and Canis lupus nubilus or Great Plains subspecies (Grizzer, born in 2004),” she said.
The Wildlife Science Center has more than 100 wolves and is an active participant in both the Mexican gray wolf and red wolf Species Survival Plan program.
Schmidt said earlier in June that the delay in obtaining the northwestern subspecies that originated from British Columbia is because of the later birthing period.
“They did not have a litter born until May 23,” she said. “They won’t be transported to us here in Ely until they are at least a month old. We will get them up and ready on the (feeding) bottle, and then get them closer to where they have antibodies for parvovirus. Most other wolf pups are born closer to the end of April, but because they originate far north in British Colombia, they have a later breeding season.”
A big part of the Wolf Center’s mission of wolf education, and of advancing survival of wolf populations in the wild is through the use of ambassador wolves.
“There are countless benefits when visitors experience the Wolf Center’s socialized wolves that offer a glimpse into the individual traits of wolves, showing the social nature of the species that makes it successful as a top-level predator,” Schmidt said. “So often people portray wolves for their predatory behavior and don’t appreciate the intricate pack life and social organization that keeps them together as a social unit. As curator, it is my job to maintain a socially cohesive unit of wolves in the exhibit, and we recognize that to do this, new life must be added to the exhibit.”
How to see the pup
The coronavirus pandemic and public health protocols still in place do mean there will be some changes at the Wolf Center this summer.
The 2021 pup will not be part of the Wolf Center’s hourly indoor programs.
“Because of COVID-19 restrictions, we will be offering outdoor viewing opportunities that will require pre-registration to participate in a 15-minute pup viewing opportunity,” said Interpretive Center Director Krista Harrington. “We will do our best to accommodate everyone, but safety of our guests, our staff, and the wolves is paramount and opportunities may be weather dependent.”
Another way to see the 2021 wolf pup is with a one-hour behind the scenes tour. These tours are only available for members of the International Wolf Center. Information about membership is available at wolf.org.
Advance tickets required
Everyone who visits the Center in 2021 must purchase advance tickets. To get tickets, click the Book Now button on the lower right-hand side of the page at wolf.org. For members of the Wolf Center, entrance tickets are free. Members are also required to book tickets in advance so that they can ensure everyone’s safety.